E-Cigarette Explosion Causes Severe Burn Injury

This case involves the unprompted explosion of an E-cigarette.

Wendy Ketner, M.D.

Written by Wendy Ketner, M.D.

- Updated onOctober 25, 2023

E-Cigarette Explosion Causes Severe Burn Injury

A man who was walking outside in August with his E-cigarette in his back pocket began to feel a burning sensation on his leg. Suddenly, the E-cigarette exploded causing a hole in the plaintiff’s leg and severe burns to the entire left side of his leg. It was alleged that a defect in the E-cigarette’s lithium ion batteries caused the explosion and subsequent injuries.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

Please discuss your knowledge of lithium ion batteries in E-cigarettes.

What might cause a battery to explode?

Expert Witness Response E-071724

inline imageI have investigated battery failures and alleged battery failures for 15+ years. My background includes failure analysis of batteries while working for a major computer manufacturer, the investigation of numerous battery fire scenes, and case review of personal injuries regarding alleged battery incidents. I also sit on a newly-launched technical committee which will be developing a new standard for E-cigarette devices. E-cigarette battery cases are one of the primary areas of my practice. To date, I have reviewed approximately 35-40 such cases with a variety of circumstances and a variety of E-cigarette makes and models. If the person has the battery in their pocket and it fails, it is most likely due to an external short rather than an internal short. The battery cell is most likely marketed as a high drain cell and thus would not have the safety mechanism generally used in other applications, and it likely did not have a shutdown separator.

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